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Figure Preparation & Uploading Guide

There are two goals: getting the paper peer reviewed and then, if accepted, getting the figures to print very nicely. Following are some suggestions about figure appearance and technical specifications, as well as figure captions.

Overview. In the web-based submission system, figures uploaded for peer review and editing may (or may not) be of print quality. If and when your paper is accepted and gets sent to Production, then we work one-by-one with authors on figures and if needed provide FTP instructions to quickly transmit files of any size to us directly.

Details about specific dpi are below. If the artwork was submitted as a part of the manuscript file, in Word for example, then .tif or .pdf files will be requested if available. It might be possible for us to create workable art here in the Production office, but that is not preferred. Worst case scenario: the author might need to be prepared to mail us sharp, dark, neat, clean hardcopies that we could scan. Do not do this unless prompted.

Note that TEM artwork needs special care because of the fine detail and repeating patterns that are difficult to capture on paper with ink in printing. Please use high-resolution images. If accepted, the proofs should be a guideline as to what authors will see and you can re-supply at that point if need be.

Copyright Permissions:

All figures (tables, video, anything) requiring permission ought to have its copyright information acknowledged in the caption of that figure/table (even if the permission granted is pending this step). Use the following format: [Used by permission of Publishing Company, from Rambo and Pinko (20XX), Journal, vol. x, Fig. Y, p. z.]

A copy of the copyright permission letter is due to the Editorial office as soon as your paper is accepted (or when the letter is obtained, if after acceptance). Failure to send us this letter will delay publication of your article.


Formats that can be uploaded for Figure file types are .tif, .eps, .jpg, and .pdf. If your artwork is in a Word file (.doc) then either put it at the end of the manuscript file, or upload another article file type and give it a title of Figures x-y. In general, .doc art will work for peer review. It will NOT for print/web versions of accepted papers. Be prepared to send high-quality art if accepted!

Large file sizes might take more than a few minutes to upload or convert to the PDF automatic format. You can use LZW compression on Tiff images to reduce file size. If you need help, please contact the editorial office and include your system information including what computer, OS, program(s), and version(s) you are using. Most reviewers will view your figures on the screen so a lower resolution image may work at that time.

Remember, you should be able to use other programs or tabs, while the system is converting and merging your figure files. Do not contact the editorial office about how long your file conversion is taking unless it has exceeded 12 hours.


Figure captions should be brief and explanatory; they should not duplicate information in the figure. Each caption begins with a paragraph indentation and the whole word "Figure" followed by the figure number and a period, i.e., "Figure 1."

Multiple parts of figures should be indicated by lowercase letters (a) and (b), (left) and (right), or (upper) and (lower). Note: If letter designations are used for the parts, the figures should actually be labeled with those letters.

Items labeled within the figure should use capital letters A, B, C, and so on to key them to the meaning in the caption or in a legend within the figure.

Labels and text in the figures must be consistent with the manuscript AND follow Am Min style. Please note our abbreviation style in figures; especially wt% for weight percent, T for temperature, and P for pressure. Close up % symbols to the number: e.g., 10%.


Note that there are 3 types of figures: plain line art, photographs, and combination art (a mixture of photographic and line art elements).

Ideal resolutions for Raster art (.tif): 1200 ppi/dpi for line art; 300 to 600 ppi/dpi for grayscale (shaded) art; 300 ppi/dpi for grayscale-photographic or color artwork. While PDFs and .eps artwork are vector (meaning they expand/contract and keep their set resolution), they will still have too low a resolution if low-resolution raster images are embedded inside.

For accepted papers, to prepare for print/web, we prefer .tif and .pdf files, although .eps files are fine, too.

Make sure to embed or outline fonts.

The resolution should be high enough (not false resolution where you just set it high but do not actually have the pixels to support it). Tip: Here is an easy way to test your resolution: view your artwork on a computer screen at 400% enlargement, are lines jagged? fuzzy? acceptable?

If your paper is accepted and if new art is requested, always put the manuscript tracking number in the filename, e.g., xxxxauthorFigz.pdf. Do NOT name anything just amminfigx.pdf because we get a lot of artwork and yours will get lost!

Note that if your artwork has great resolution but the figure is only 1 inch wide, there will still be a problem. Likewise if the resolution is poor but the artwork is 12 inches wide, then there may not be a problem. Ideally size your art for print, about 3 inches (19 picas) for 1 column; about 6-1/2 inches (39 picas) for 2 columns.

Do not use hairlines, meaning lines below 0.5 pt thick. In fact, lines should be larger if there is any doubt.

For color, set it to cmyk (not RGB); if it is not color, make sure it is grayscale, not RGB or cmyk. (More on color artwork below.)


After reduction, the smallest character on a figure should 8 pts high. When in doubt use bigger lettering vs. smaller lettering to ensure readability; but not so big you appear to be "shouting." Please use a plain "Helvetica" or similar (sans serif) type font. The key is to be consistent in your font choice for all figures. Remember to "embed" all fonts!

Italics: The text on the figures should conform to American Mineralogist style for variables, numbers, and units. For example, T for temperature should be italicized; as well as P for pressure. The text on the figure must be consistent with the text in the article. Place extensive descriptive text in the caption, not in the figure.

Again, if your original is oversized, it will most likely be reduced to 1 column (about 3 inches wide). Make sure your lettering and open or empty symbols such as triangles, diamonds, etc., are large enough to still be readable after the size reduction.

Hairlines may break up or disappear when reduced. Please use line widths great enough to survive reduction.


As much as possible, figures should be prepared for reduction to one-column width, which is 19 picas or about 3 inches. This means make your lines and lettering visible at this size (see above). Some images need to be two columns because of the detail or amount of data represented; 2 columns would be 39 picas, or about 6-1/2 inches. At times we run art in an in- between size--this is our decision either for layout or appearance reasons. Please plan your artwork to be 1 column whenever possible.


Color art is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Authors are responsible for the cost to run color in the journal, which is about $450 per paper (not page), however extra pages are often available at no additional charge, depending on layout flexibility. Again, this is often worked out one-by-one. A limited color fund is available for financial assistance. When submitting a paper or a revision, just add a note to the editor requesting consideration for the color fund and add how much you could contribute. Contact the Managing editor for more information.

We make no profit on color and charge the author only the average cost to us.

Online color option. Many authors choose to print figures in grayscale, while paying a color charge of $100 for full color in the web version. Online-only color is available free to MSA members.

Disclaimer. Neither the printer nor the American Mineralogist is responsible for the quality of the artwork you supply; a poor file is exactly the same as sending us a blurry photograph. The image in the journal will likewise be blurry. The quality of the final outcome is determined by your equipment, image resolution, and your ability to produce a quality file. We try to help authors as much as possible.


A note about PDFs with interactive figures, those papers with interactive features such as Quicktime movies (.mov) or buttons that change an image to a different view, or roll over features. These should upload to AllenTrack with no problems. Upload a .mov as a file type video and upload an interactive PDF as a figure file type just as any other PDF. If accepted, we will work carefully and closely together to ensure success online.

Back to Information for Authors.